(Robert Schmidt, CCCMBCA)
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Headed into the final week of the regular season, San Francisco remains the state’s top-ranked team in the California Community Colleges Men’s Basketball Coaches Association poll this week. San Francisco is one of four teams (San Diego City, Yuba and El Camino-Compton Center) in the state with 24-wins. Ironically, all but two — Yuba and San Diego City — remains in a battle for their respective conference/division title. This week, figures to produce some memorable games as teams battle for conference/division titles and better placement in the regional playoffs, which will be announced next Monday afternoon.
1. San Francisco (24-2) — Winners of six straight, San Francisco has guaranteed itself of a share of the Coast-North division title. The Rams can clinch the title on Wednesday, at home, vs. 12-13 Foothill. San Francisco will close out the regular season on Friday against No. 9 Ohlone.
2. Saddleback (23-3) — We said the Orange Empire Conference title would come down to the final week, and, not to blow our own horn, but we were absolutely right. On Thursday, in Mission Viejo, at 5 pm — for all of the marbles — Fullerton vs. Saddleback. A Saddleback win = its sixth consecutive conference title and the south’s No. 1 seed. (see Fullerton for its =). But before Saddleback can focus on Fullerton, the Gauchos get Santa Ana at home on Tuesday.
3. Yuba (24-2) — Yuba, winners of 15 consecutive games, wrapped up the Bay Valley Conference title last week. This week, the 49’ers host 8-15 Merritt and then visit 8-15 Mendocino to close out the regular season. In between, the 49’ers can sit around the campfire and discuss gold prices since their work is done for the time being.
4. San Bernardino (23-5) — San Bernardino has assured itself of at least a tie for the Pacific Coast-North division title. The Wolverines, winners of nine straight, can click the title outright on Wednesday when San Diego Miramar visits. The game looms large for Miramar, which begins the week a game behind second-place Mt. San Jacinto — which concludes the season in San Bernardino on Friday. Friday’s game could also be big if Saddleback should fall to Fullerton on Thursday (see Fullerton for details).
5. El Camino-Compton Center (24-4) — El Camino-Compton has assured itself a share of the South Coast-South title. The Tartars can win the title outright on Wednesday when they visit third-place LA Southwest. ECC then closes out the season at home against Long Beach City. The Tartars scored a state-high 133 points last week in a 133-124 win over El Camino. In eight of their last nine games, the Tartars have scored 90 points or more.
6. Fullerton (20-6) — Everyone already knows about the Hornets’ showdown with Saddleback for the conference title on Thursday. But there is more in play here. Would a Fullerton win = enough to secure the No. 1 seed in the south? Or does, San Bernardino, with a sweep of its games this week, deserve the top seed. Or does, San Diego, Chaffey, El Camino-Compton or … there is a lot riding on that game in Mission Viejo — for a lot of teams.
7. Feather River (22-3) — Feather River closes out its regular season on Wednesday with a visit to Siskiyous, which has lost its last 11 games. The Golden Eagles have wrapped up yet another Golden Valley title and probably the No. 3 seed in the north.
8. San Diego City (24-5) — San Diego City, winners of its last 10 games, has wrapped up the Pacific Coast-South division. The Knights will gallop to two road games — at Imperial Valley and San Diego Mesa — this week. And depending upon what happens in Mission Viejo on Thursday, the Knights could be looking at a top 4 seed, if certain things happen.
9. Ohlone (19-7) — Mathematically, Ohlone is still in the conference race. Realistically, the Renegades are in a battle with Canada for second-place and probably a top 10, perhaps 8, seed in the playoffs. Ohlone will begin the week in a dead heat with Canada for second place. Unfortunately, the Renegades finish the season against No. 1 San Francisco on Friday after hosting last-place Chabot on Wednesday.
10. Santa Rosa (19-7) — Although, Santa Rosa has secured a share of the Big 8 title, there is still some drama left as the Cubs travel to Sacramento city on Tuesday. The Panthers, winners of five straight, currently sit two games behind Santa Rosa. A Panther win would force the Cubs into a must-win game at Sierra on Thursday for the outright title.
11. Citrus (22-5) — Winners of seven straight, Citrus begins the week clinging to a one-game lead over an unlikely opponent — Barstow. And, as fate would have it, the Western State-East title could come down to a showdown in the desert when Citrus visits Barstow on Saturday at 3 pm. Barstow, which faces last-place Victor Valley on Wednesday, will need some help from Antelope Valley when the Marauders take on Citrus in Glendora.
12. Fresno (21-6) — Fresno falls a bit this week. THe Rams begin the week holding a one-game lead on Columbia. Unfortunately, for fans of the game, the Rams finish the season at 10-15 Porterville and then at Sequoias, which begins the week 12-14. Both Porterville and Sequoias are on the bubble for a playoff spot, so a win over a top team like Fresno would help their cause.
13. Canada (19-7) — Mathematically, Canada is still in the conference race (heard this before?). Realistically, the Colts are in a battle with Ohlone for second-place and probably a top 10, perhaps 8, seed in the playoffs. Canada has the easier of two as far as its schedule this week. The Colts will close vs. 13-12 Skyline at home and then 12-13 Foothill on the road. Whereas, Ohlone has to take on No. 1 San Francisco to close out the season.
14. Chaffey (21-7) — The basketball gods have provided South Coast-North fans with a heck of week as the Panthers close the 2017 conference season with a home game vs. East Los Angeles (Wednesday) before visiting Mt. San Antonio (Friday). At 7-1, Chaffey holds a one-game lead on both Mt. San Antonio and East Los Angeles. This race has the makings of too many twists and turns — what a gift for fans!
15. Cerritos (19-6) — Hats off to Cerritos, who continues to claw its way back up the state rankings. The Falcons are riding a five-game win streak headed into its final two regular-season contests. This week, Cerritos hosts Long Beach on Wednesday before visiting El Camino on Friday. Although, it is doubtful Cerritos can claim any portion of the division title, it does appear the Falcons are playing its best consistent basketball of the season.
16. Sacramento (16-10) — Just when you think you think you have everything figured out, a team like Sacramento City decides it is time to join the party. For the last couple weeks, the Panthers have been quietly stalking Santa Rosa. The Panthers can only hope for a share of the conference title, but they get Santa Rosa at home on Tuesday. A Panther win would force Santa Rosa into a must-win game at Sierra on Thursday for the outright title.
17. Las Positas (20-7) — Las Positas will settle for fourth place in the Coast-North division. Once a threat to San Francisco for the conference title, the Hawks have been stymied of late, losing three of their last four games. Las Positas will close out its regular season on Friday in San Bruno against Skyline.
18. East Los Angeles (19-6) — East Los Angeles is one of three teams still in contention for the conference title in the South Coast-North. The Huskies, who many thought were a Final Four contender in December, will begin the week a game behind Chaffey. But as we state above, East Los Angeles has a showdown at Chaffey on Wednesday before wrapping up the season at home against Pasadena City.
19. Riverside (19-8) — Riverside was eliminated from the conference championship race last week. And to make matters worse, the Tigers could still finish anywhere from third to fifth. This week, Riverside will host Cypress, which is a game behind the Tigers, and then see Irvine Valley on Thursday. The Lssers begin the week 1 ½ games behind the Tigers. Riverside can make it all a mute by simply beating Cypress on Tuesday, giving the Tigers sole possession of third place.
20. Columbia (14-9) — Mathematically, still alive for a share of the conference title, Columbia will simply need to beat either Merced or West Hills this week to secure second place in the Central Valley Conference.
1. San Francisco (13)
2. Yuba (2)
3. Feather River
5. Santa Rosa
9. Las Positas
12. Diablo Valley
13. San Joaquin Delta
Others: American River, Los Medanos
1. Saddleback (12)
2. San Bernardino (3)
3. El Camino-Compton Center
5. San Diego City
9. East Los Angeles
11. Mt. San Antonio
13. Mt. San Jacinto
14.. San Diego Miramar
Others: Barstow, Cypress, Antelope Valley, Santa Monica, Grossmont